Edmonton Elks to require proof of COVID-19 vaccine or negative test from fans

The Edmonton Elks have added their name to a growing list of organizations requiring fans be vaccinated against COVID-19 or show a negative test to attend a game.

In an announcement Monday morning, the team said fans attending Elks games at Commonwealth Stadium will need to be fully vaccinated (14 days after second dose) or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test, starting at the club’s home game on Friday, Oct. 15.

Fans must show either electronic or paper proof of vaccination to enter the stadium. If a fan cannot prove they are fully vaccinated, they will be required to show a negative test that was collected within 48 hours of the game’s scheduled start time.

Fans 12 and under will be exempt from these requirements, according to the team.

The team also said all Elks business operations and front office employees will be required to be fully vaccinated.

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Elks game-days staff, as well as stadium and event staff, will be required to follow the same game-day requirements as fans.

“As we continue to navigate the ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19, the Elks believe this policy is essential to delivering a safe environment for our fans and staff, as we continue to play an important role in our bringing our community together,” the Edmonton Elks said in a news release Monday.

Read more: Edmonton sports fans anxiously await COVID-19 rules to attend games

The decision comes as the team deals with a COVID-19 outbreak.

In a news release Sunday, the Elks said the number of confirmed positive cases among the team has dropped to 13 after a player was deemed to be a false positive.

All players and coaches will remain at home in isolation through Tuesday, and will continue to receive daily tests.

The Elks (1-2) plan to return to their facilities at Commonwealth Stadium on Wednesday ahead of their next game against the Stampeders in Calgary on Sept. 6.

Read more: Edmonton Elks revise number of COVID-19 cases to 13 after false positive

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Speaking with Daryl McIntyre and Morley Scott on 630 CHED Monday morning, Elks CEO Chris Presson said there were no new cases confirmed from Sunday’s tests. Presson said the COVID-19 situation has been “monumentally better” over the last few days after some sleepless nights last week.

“You don’t sleep much at night and you don’t look forward to the mornings when you’re getting texts in the morning that you have positive cases,” Presson said.

“So it actually puts you in a mind space where you just really doubt everything including the first ding you hear of your phone every morning.”

He said the players who have contracted the disease seem to be doing well.

“We did have a bit of a complication with one player who had another underlying issue that, coupled with COVID, presented some challenges. He had to require some additional medical attention but it’s my understanding he’s doing just fine.”

Presson said he received information over the weekend and he believes the team has learned where the outbreak started.

“We had somebody break protocol unintentionally and was trying to take care of his body, had a massage therapist come out to try and take care of his body, apparently contracted it from her,” Presson said.

“And then beyond that, this is where it’s challenging, if you’re married or you have a girlfriend and she’s doing the shopping for the family and she has to go do what she has to do because you’re in isolation. And then before that, you’re in Tier 1, your wife’s not — they have to do everything for the family to make the family go — and we had a couple wives pick it up from outside of the house and bring it in to their husbands who then infected our team.

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“That’s where it came from and that’s how quickly it spreads.”

The Saskatchewan Roughriders also announced Monday that fans will be required to be fully vaccinated or provide a negative test to attend games, starting Sept. 17.

Earlier this month, Calgary Sports and Entertainment announced a new policy that will require all eligible fans, event staff and employees to be fully vaccinated for attendance at live events at McMahon Stadium where the Stampeders play.

The policy — which comes into effect on Sept. 15 — also includes staff, fans and employees attending events at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Read more: Calgary Flames, Stampeders, Hitmen fans & staff must be fully vaccinated to attend games

The Oilers Entertainment Group also announced a new policy earlier this month that will require fans aged 12 and older to provide proof of either being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at least 14 days before a game or a negative COVID-19 taken within 48 hours of the game to be allowed into Rogers Place.

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The OEG COVID-19 requirements start Sept. 28 and will be in place “for the foreseeable future.”

Read more: Fans attending Oilers games at Rogers Place must provide proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test

Before Monday’s announcements, the Roughriders and Elks were the only CFL teams without policies requiring fans to produce proof of vaccination or a negative test.

Presson is scheduled to speak further about the new policy at 1 p.m. Monday.

— With files from The Canadian Press.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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